Customer service is the new battlefield of marketing

June 16, 2020 | 5 minute read
Daniel Foppen
Director of Product Strategy, Oracle Advertising and CX
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"The Times They Are a-Changin’,"

… sang Bob Dylan 57 years ago, in a time of uncertainty and change. In such trying times as we’ve seen in recent months, uncertainty thrives and business leaders questions how to navigate their organizations. Just about every business sees their digital transformation initiatives being greatly accelerated. Now is the time to ensure business continuity, react with agility, and pivot to the new normal.

In the last few months, business transformation has happened with unprecedented speed. However, we had already been in a transformational shift the last few years where the basic rules of competition have changed. In what Oracle calls the “Experience Economy,” companies increasingly compete on the quality of customer experiences, and less based on price, packaging and brand identity.

While experiences are a very visible, hands-on outcome, not much has been written about the building blocks that make it possible to deliver these experiences. The key to sustainable differentiated experiences in the experience economy is how well you as a business collect, manage, and activate data.

Evermore customer data for personalization

Customer data takes many forms. Marketing, CRM, customer loyalty, back-office ERP, assets and Internet of Things (IoT), website behavioral data, geo-location, different devices, third-party data, social, credit cards, point of sale systems, and on and on. Through consolidation and activation, we're getting to the point where unprecedented levels of customer intelligence are becoming available. This is super exciting because this enables the holy grail of marketing: personalization at scale.

The more you know about your customer, the better you can serve them. Over decades, organizations have been growing the number of data points, but very few companies successfully manage and use it to offer personalized experiences. These businesses that do it well have been tremendously successful. McKinsey found that personalization can lift revenue by 5-15%, increasing your marketing efficiency by 10-30% and reducing acquisition costs by up to 50%!

How it works

It’s actually simple, although perhaps not necessarily easy. When you combine a rich customer profile with thousands of customer attributes—like Customer Lifetime Value, Age, Channel Preferences, Gender, Brand Affinity—and real-time event triggers (clicks, add/drop shopping carts, likes, shares, downloads), you can craft personalized, timely customer messages.

The personalized message can then be orchestrated and distributed across all available channels, whether that be a personalized landing page, an email, a text message, a push notification, or an ad on a webpage. Of course, you could do this manually with the right data, but that’s not really feasible on the scale of B2C with many millions of customers. This is where Oracle Unity Customer Data Platform comes into play.

Human personalization

Who's better at delivering a personalized message to a human being than another human being? Personalization is something that needs to go beyond event-based marketing, martech, and adtech. It should include authentic human-to-human interactions that occur in customer service.

No matter how perfect your personalized marketing messages, it only takes one bad service experience to throw all that investment away.

Customer service engagements are data-rich. Service typically involves a digital interaction generating rich behavioral data. This is often followed by human interaction, from which even more insight can be derived. Machines have their place, such as analyzing data sets and deriving insights, but a human can bridge gaps in understanding that data just can’t provide. Think about how humans pick up subtle cues from language, tone, and body language during a normal conversation.

Customer service is often the most intimate moment a business will ever have with a customer across the entire customer lifecycle. A conversation with a contact center agent is so much more personal than any email, push notification, or SMS will ever be. Human service offers a tremendous opportunity to personalize the experience with authenticity and persuasion. Yet, many marketers still don't see service as part of their realm.

At Oracle, we declare that now—right now—is the time to start seeing customer service as a prime distribution channel to deliver personalized marketing messages. If data is the life-blood of marketing, then service is the battlefield.

How can customer intelligence be used for personalized customer service experiences?

Customer service segmentation

Segmentation may be more associated with marketing than customer service, but think about it. Why do the overwhelming majority of organizations still treat their customers as a generic customer without considering the value an individual customer brings?

Whether you’re a top 1% spender or that notorious person who just loves contacting customer service five times a week, you go through the same service processes and queues. It’s time to start segmenting your customers for customer service.

Respond to service signals

Just about everything we do as consumers generates data. As described above, these events are activated for marketing purposes, but customers emit just as many signals regarding customer service requirements as purchase intent signals.

Think about a customer downloading a manual and browsing the same pages repeatedly. He is fruitlessly searching for answers on your help page. He isn’t using an app anymore. It's important to always be there where the customer needs you.

Drive more sales via customer service

The idea of transitioning the contact center from a cost center to become a profit center is decades old. Everyone likes the idea, but it’s difficult to do. We've now arrived at an inflection point where different technologies, economic shifts to digital business, and other factors are creating the opportunity to pivot and use customer service as a revenue generating channel.

What this all now means is that by blending a 360 degree customer view with real-time behavioral data, digital personalization technologies, and a seamlessly connected enterprise suite of CX applications, nothing is blocking customer service agents from becoming trusted sales associates. It’s as simple as that.

Customer service segmentation, responding to service signals, and driving sales from customer service are key components for success in a strategic shift to extend your marketing channels to include customer service. Where do you see most opportunities for customer intelligence in service in your business? Discover how Oracle Service can help.

Daniel Foppen

Director of Product Strategy, Oracle Advertising and CX

Daniel Foppen leads the digital-first product strategy team for Oracle Service, focusing on the future of customer experience, data strategy, innovation, customer service, and digital transformation. He is a thought leader, public speaker, daddy, husband, foodie, avid snowboarder, and bass player.

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